What is Health At Every Size?


This week I want to introduce the concept of Health At Every Size on the blog. HAES goes hand in hand with non-diet nutrition, and so it is important to be aware of it.

What is it?

Health at every size or HAES supports people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being, rather than weight control.

HAES promotes eating in a way that is flexible, values pleasure and honours your hunger and satiety cues.

HAES encourages us to find joy in moving our body.

HAES urges us to accept and respect the diversity of bodies in our world.

Why is it important?

I have touched on some of the issues with dieting and weight cycling behaviour already, if you haven’t already check out my blog “Why diets don’t work”. It is important to remember that dieting doesn’t work, and in fact dieting behaviour can have a negative impact on our health. But in order to ditch the diet mentality, we also have to accept all bodies as they are. Accepting all bodies means not judging anybody based on it’s appearance, not treating people differently because of their body and not encouraging people to change their body (e.g. through weight loss).

That is where HAES comes in. HAES is provides a weight-neutral paradigm for healthcare professionals to work in. Instead of focusing on weight as an outcome, we focus on heathy habits and attitudes, and ensuring client/patient feels great about themselves.

What is the evidence behind HAES?

  • Ciliska 1998- A randomised trial where participants received a 12-week (I h/week) education intervention, a 12-week (2 h/week) psychoeducational intervention, or were in a control group. The psychoeducational intervention resulted in improvements in self-esteem, body dissatisfaction and restrained eating behaviour. No differences were found in the education group.

  • Tanco et al. 1998- Obese women were assigned to either a group cognitive treatment programme, behaviour therapy weight loss programme or a wait-list control group. In the cognitive treatment group depression, anxiety, and eating-related psychopathology decreased significantly over the course of treatment while perceptions of self-control increased. No significant changes in these variables was noted in the behaviour therapy or control group.

  • Provencher et al. 2009- Overweight/obese women were randomly assigned to join the HAES intervention, a social support group or the control group. Eating behaviour improved in both treatment groups, however behaviours remained improved long-term in the HAES group.

  • Goodrick et al. 1998- found that non-dieting treatment in overweight women reduced the incidence of binge-eating behaviour, and this was maintained at 18 month follow-up.

There is a good body of research on this topic. If you want more references find some in the blog mentioned above and on the HAES website. The concept of HAES was originally written by Linda Bacon. Linda has written a book called Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight, as well as countless research papers on the subject.

HAES helps you start to understand and accept that all bodies are worthy bodies, that all bodies are unique and that we shouldn't try to change them and that all bodies are deserving of care, compassion and help when they need it.

What do you think about the concept of HAES? I would love to hear!

Lots of love,

Little O x

#nutrition #nutritionist #health #healthy #haes

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